Today's post was written by Dawn Stephens, our Minister to Women at Brook Hills.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I have no idea how to help him!" And cried to God, “Please, tell me what to do!”

If so, I pray my thoughts intertwined with our journey may encourage and equip you if you are walking a similar path.

Our journey of discouragement and difficulty began on a spring day in 2000 when my husband called to say that his company was closing and everyone was losing their jobs. He had been employed there five years but was given no severance and no warning.

With this job, he had moved into a new arena of specialized software training and now found himself unemployed overnight.

The scary part of this story is that six months earlier, we had just moved into a new home that brought with it a larger mortgage payment.

He “came home” that day, opened a home office, and began pursuing contacts in the industry. He quickly was hired to work contract for peer companies in his field. But that work was inconsistent, which made keeping our financial obligations current difficult.

In 2002, we also began an international adoption of our son, which is a very financially and emotionally taxing experience for anyone. Our son came home in the summer of 2003, which was a huge and stressful transition for our marriage, lifestyle, and especially finances. But an even bigger blessing!

Trying to juggle two working parents schedules, daycare (and its expense), and his inconsistent work and income schedule began to take its toll on my husband.

During these years, he worked several different short-term jobs, which provided some income but no long-term “career” direction for him.

Then in the fall of 2004, another stressful turn, his mother was given both a breast cancer and leukemia diagnosis.

Over the next 2½ years, he walked a journey that included her doctor visits, treatment decisions, and travel to out-of-state cancer centers. But along the way, God did the miracle I had prayed and asked Him to do for so long.

Unfortunately, we lost his mother in the summer of 2007 to a rare form of leukemia, CML (chronic mylogenous leukemia), but through my husband’s experiences as her caregiver, God worked in his life.

He healed them both: my husband here on earth and my mother-in-law in heaven. Through this journey and doors only God could open, He gave Greg a direction in life, a career where his gifts could be used to help others, and a job to provide an income for our family.

But these open doors did not diminish the deep despair and grief he felt upon losing such a godly woman. She was truly his “cheerleader” whose journey encouraged him to start a non-profit organization solely dedicated to this group of leukemia patients. Within one year, it grew to a national organization seeking to educate the public, advocate for patients, and promote awareness of this disease.

We will probably never understand why God chose to use my mother-in-law’s death in his plan for Greg’s life, but He did. At this time, Isaiah 55:8 became real in our lives: “'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

But during those dark days while we were waiting and I was pleading for God to “do something” in my husband’s life, I learned a few lessons I hope encourage you.

To read about these life lessons that Dawn learned, read Part 2 of this post, which will be up on Tuesday, March 4.

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